Jump to content

Drool, energy drinks, a Day 3 pick based on a single play: Titans GM explains reasoning behind all six selections

Recommended Posts


All good stuff.  Thanks @Huston  My sleeper of the picks is Nate Davis.  I think he going to be a good player.  Maybe not pro bowl, but good inside.  He's coming from a small school and he come in knowing he has to prove he belongs.  He already showed how he will handle that at the senior bowl.  I think he'll be a long time Titan.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Huston said:

Drool, energy drinks, a Day 3 pick based on a single play: Titans GM explains reasoning behind all six selections

The Athletic

By Travis Haney 3h ago


Sifting through film clips of the Titans’ recent sixth-round draft pick, West Virginia linebacker David Long, Jon Robinson raises his laser pointer at the projection screen on his office wall.

“This is the Baylor game. I was at this game,” Tennessee’s fourth-year general manager says, taking a drag from a blue Red Bull can.

Robbie Bohren, the team’s longtime head of media relations, has found a chair in the room and is watching some of the film.


“Does it help you to see these guys in person?” Bohren asks.

Robinson kind of shrugs.

“I don’t know that you learn a whole lot,” he says. “It’s good to see them on the hoof.”

A second or two passes.

“I might have salivated when I saw Jeff Simmons live,” Robinson says of the team’s eventual first-round pick, a standout defensive lineman from Mississippi State.

But when Robinson saw Simmons play, he admits that he never imagined he’d be a possibility for the Titans, who at that time appeared destined to pick somewhere between 15 and 25. (They ended up at No. 19 after a 9-7 season.)

Simmons only entered the picture after he tore his left ACL in February.

“For us, really, had he not had the knee injury, I would say it was a real slim chance that he would’ve been there at 19,” Robinson said. “I mean, I didn’t think we had any chance.”

Starting with and focusing on Simmons, Robinson took time this week to discuss at length with The Athletic each of the Titans’ six draft picks.

He broke down each prospect’s film and laid out the picks’ timelines, from the initial scouting to the draft week finish line.

Round 1 (No. 19 overall): DL Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State

Tennessee’s area and national scouts made their Simmons presentations in December, describing a lineman with the chance to impact games in a profound way.

Based on his in-person observations and some “quick” film study, Robinson saw all he needed to see.

Continuing to discuss Simmons was essentially pointless; he’d be a sure-fire top-10 selection, with a real chance to sneak into the top 5.

He would not be there at No. 19.

“It was, ‘Yeah, I saw him. I’m all set talking about him. Who’s next?'” Robinson said. “There were other players we probably needed to focus on. In a typical scenario, you probably don’t have a chance to take him.”

But Simmons’ knee injury, as unfortunate as it was for him, changed everything for the Titans. More and more, Robinson started to sink himself into Simmons’ film.

“Powerful. Athletic. Long. Can play a lot of spots. Versatile. Good motor player,” Robinson said. “With those defensive linemen, a lot of times you worry about them taking plays off. I mean, he’s a guy who doesn’t take very many plays off. He plays with some enthusiasm.”

Words that Simmons repeatedly returned to this week while watching a dozen film cut-ups:

“Factors”: That’s how Robinson described Simmons’ disruption, particularly when it came to the quarterback. Even if the play didn’t result in a sack, Simmons would “factor” in creating pressure.

“Gets vertical”: After getting jostled or absorbing contact, Simmons showed an ability to shake free and again get in a straight line, with speed, toward the QB. The plays often showcased his reaction time and burst, both of which are sublime.

“Dead”: One way or another, Simmons tended to kill plays himself.

The film showed an athlete who is excellent with his hands and possesses a sturdy, sturdy base. Robinson even noted some advanced technique polish, a credit to Mississippi State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.

His best game, Robinson thought, was Mississippi State’s Outback Bowl game against Iowa. The en vogue thing for high-end prospects is to sit out bowls.

Simmons, instead, was relentless in the game.

“Exactly,” Robinson said.

At one point, two Hawkeyes offensive linemen, who’d just been embarrassed by Simmons, were jawing at one another on the field.

Watching the film again this week, Robinson still seemed to marvel at Simmons. It was almost as if the drool was re-forming as he watched his top pick work in maroon and white, all the while envisioning him this fall in two-tone blue.

“That’s a big son of a bitch running right here,” Robinson said, almost giggling as he watched Simmons sprint toward the sideline in pursuit of an Ole Miss ball-carrier. He laughed a little more when Simmons bumped his large frame into Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown, the Titans’ second-round pick.

It was clear to the Titans early on that Simmons was a special player. The evaluation process then extended to two other important areas: the knee injury — and the much-publicized incident as a high school senior.

On the night of the first round, and then the following day, Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel talked at length about assessing Simmons’ character regarding the videotaped incident of him assaulting a woman in a fight involving family members. (Simmons pleaded no contest to a simple assault charge and was found guilty of malicious mischief. He reportedly paid more than $1,000 in fines.)

Mississippi State made a difficult decision to still allow Simmons to enroll. Those in Starkville rave about the model citizen he was in three years on campus.

Even so, the first step for the Titans was to have a ground-floor conversation, with Robinson bringing in owner Amy Adams Strunk. Was this incident enough to summarily cross off Simmons from the board, just in principle? Or did it require more evaluation and research?

“Jon and Mike came to me months ago, and we discussed the incident,” Adams Strunk said April 26 at Simmons’ introductory news conference. “We watched the video together. It begins with trust from Mike and Jon that I was able to get comfortable. But they were both very respectful that I needed to be comfortable, because at the end of the day, I have the final decision. It was a process.”

Robinson and the scouting department conducted numerous interviews with those who knew Simmons, with Simmons receiving a consensus character endorsement. Every piece of information signaled to the Titans that this really was an out-of-character moment. They knew it was a horrifically violent loss of control, but their final impression was that it was also something that led Simmons to mature.

At that point, the matter was resolved in their minds. They no longer returned to those concerns.

At the combine in late February, Vrabel received a general question regarding character evaluation. He never mentioned Simmons by name — but he also wound up saying something very similar after the pick was made.

“Well, we all make mistakes. I think that that’s the first thing,” Vrabel said in Indianapolis. “I’ve got kids: I’ve got a freshman in college and a junior in high school. We all understand that things are going to happen. Is it a mistake or is it a bad person? If it’s a mistake, you try to fix the mistake. If they’re a bad guy, you move on from bad guys.”

Adams Strunk gave full, public support of Simmons after the pick.

“We’re getting a great football player; that goes without saying,” she said. “But we’re getting a great man. Our locker room is so important. We only have good men in there, and this young man is a good man.”

Hearing the owner’s words, Simmons bowed his head and broke down in tears.

“I think he was extremely genuine,” Robinson said this week. “Amy conveyed how she felt about him and about us in the process, that we vet these players out and the fact that, since I’ve been here, we don’t bring bad people into this organization, this community.

“I think everybody got to see who Jeffery really is. It was a pretty powerful moment.”

Regarding the injury, Robinson said he did not recall, at least as a GM, selecting a player with a serious knee injury during training. It obviously wasn’t a deal-breaker, though.

“Historically, guys have been taken with that injury,” Robinson said. “I mean, guys come back from that now. Medicine has changed a lot in the last 20 years. I’m certainly no doctor, so you’re relying on their exam and our discussions with the doctor who did (the surgery) and the trainers working with him at Mississippi State.

“He was getting after the rehab, so …”

Even so, the Titans — who should again be playoff contenders in 2019 — had to become comfortable with Simmons missing some or all of the upcoming season, as he continues his rehab. Simmons said he’s targeting an October return, but the team has said it will not rush him back.

“Mike and I talked about it,” Robinson said. “We talked about it with Amy (and told her), ‘We’re probably not going to have this guy for a little while. There’s a chance he can come back and help us in ‘19, but there’s a chance he might not.’

“We kind of have to wait to see how it goes. But this type of player, you don’t usually have a chance to draft them unless you’re not winning very many games. The risk-reward factor, the reward far outweighed the risk.”

Draft Day in Nashville had arrived, with 200,000 people descending on Lower Broadway to create the most memorable draft spectacle in the league’s history. About four miles north, at the team’s Saint Thomas Sports Park home, Robinson spent part of that day again watching Simmons’ film, “just to make sure we were right.”

He turned it off feeling confident about Simmons, if things fell the right way.

As the draft got into the teens, Robinson took a look at the team’s board. He described his board as “horizontal,” with the war room comparing three or four players head-to-head. (As opposed to a “big board,” numbered 1 through X.)

Robinson skirted questions about who was being compared with Simmons for the 19th pick, other than to say where Simmons’ position was in his mind.

“He was at the top of it. He was at the top of it,” Robinson said.

I asked specifically about Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins and N.C. State offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury, both of whom were selected before the Titans picked. He didn’t say whether they would have been favored over Simmons, if there were a choice.

“We liked them. We had them ranked up there pretty high,” Robinson said.

Did Robinson have concerns about Simmons being selected by another team, prior to No. 19?

“I thought there was at least two teams we were going to have to dodge bullets on,” he said, adding that there was “no chance” the Titans could have waited until the second round to select Simmons.

I suggested that maybe the Colts, at No. 21, might have taken Simmons. (Indy wound up trading out of the first round, perhaps another indication that Simmons was a coveted target.)

If that were true, it could have been part of the reason Robinson declined a couple of trade offers (“one strong and one kinda OK”) to slide back into the “mid-20s.”

“I didn’t feel like the extra picks, although I would have loved to have had them, was worth passing on him as a player,” he said.

When Minnesota took Bradbury at 18, the Titans’ war room lit up. There was no debate. The choice was a clear one.

“It was a very good moment. Very good moment. Great moment,” Robinson said. “He was far and away, we felt, the best player for us.”

One reason the Titans went with a defensive lineman, Robinson said, was because he felt as if the talent at that position “dropped off pretty drastically.”

The scouting group believed the talent pool at the other need positions — edge-rusher, interior offensive line and receiver depth — was deeper, allowing Tennessee to address them in the ensuing picks and still get value.

And they accomplished that, it would seem.

So Huston, you can write an entire video log replay, get a bunch of "thumbs-up" but can't articulately summarize a thorough breakdown about what this franchise should've done and more importantly "should do" moving forward to win a championship??? 


How about a few more words in length from your personal genius (holding your GM can of Red Bull), about what you would've done while predicting how this team will fare in 2019... rather than restate something all of us could watch online.... I'm all ears. 



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Huston i enjoyed those articles thoroughly.


A great read.


I'm surprised some smart ass didn't put TLDR. Some don't have the attention span to read it all.


Anyway a big thumbs up from me those were some great in depth pieces.


Folks can say what they want about JRob but at the end of the day he gets the job done. In the Webster years we would've gotten a DGB clone at WR and a LB that was drafted because he was a wrestler by passing the better more complete player (Zack Brown/Lavonte David). For a 3rd round O lineman Poutasi,lol.


Something to ponder.....


Ruston Webster first 3 years as GM were all losing seasons,


JRob first 3 years as GM were all winning seasons.


Webster's 4th year was a losing one getting him fired,


Maybe JRob's 4th will be a winning one with an extension.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...